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Old June 28th, 2008, 01:39 AM   #1
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Workflow Questions

Hi People! My first post here so it'll probably be very general, but would appreciate all the help I can get.

Pakistan is still WAY behind in the video scheme of things. Television networks still ask for DVCAM (PAL) masters regardless of the format you shoot and post produce in. So I'm thinking lets track backwards from that.

1. Since the final master has to be in DVCAM would it be pointless to shoot the video in anything other than SD? I'm thinking Digital Betacam would probably be my best bet owing to its 4:2:2 colour space, but I'm open to any suggestions.

2. I'm going into production of a drama serial as early as next week, and we're hiring all equipment and also recruiting an experienced DP for the job. The rental company has recently acquired an EX1 and is pushing for me to rent that out with a Firestore. The DP, however, has no prior experience in this camera and is only taking responsibility for his work on the DigiBeta. Also, the EX1 is full HD and that alone would cause workflow issues since I have to downconvert to DVCAM anyways. Any suggestions regarding workflow and choice of camera would be highly appreciated!

3. Since all my previous work has been edited, post produced, and mastered on DVCAM I've just been using a DSR-11 deck and capturing/mastering through FireWire. Now I intend to get the Black Magic Intensity Pro card. Although this is primarily used for HDMI capturing and monitoring I'm thinking I could use the analog component inputs to capture from a rented DigiBeta deck using a BNC to RCA converter (the intensity pro has RCA connectors rather than BNC). Will this workflow maintain the 4:2:2 colour space of DigitalBeta if captured correctly? Furthermore, will the component capture offer better quality output even when ultimately mastered onto DVCAM? Is the Intensity Pro even the right card for this workflow? Suggestions and opinions would be most welcome.

4. I also have an FX1 camera who's footage I intend to use in the production process along with the Digital Betacam footage in post. Will there be a significant visual jump between these two mediums if put alongside each other? I have previously done this for a music video and the results were hardly noticabe after deinterlacing and grading the final edit - but for a drama shoot where a film look isn't necessarily neeed I'm thinking there would be a noticable difference. Any opinions?

5. Even if I do get the Intensity Pro, can I capture DV footage shot on the FX1 through component? I understand that DV has a colour space of 4:1:1. This may be a stupid question but will capturing through component increase the colour space margin in any way? Or would it be the same as capturing through FireWire?

Even though I have a million other questions I think I should stop here before I scare away everyone from answering! Anyway, not too bad for a first post eh? :)
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Old June 28th, 2008, 08:36 AM   #2
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Ali...

Consider this: what's the lifespan of your production? If it's longer than a year then consider shooting and editing in HD, and downconverting to an SD master for current broadcast. The HD master can always be repurposed for HD when it's needed in the future.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz did that with their show back in the 1960's by shooting their sitcom (I Love Lucy) on film, then holding onto the rights themselves. No one back then ever expected the value of something called "reruns" and everyone thought the cost of shooting on film to be a total waste.

Their television show, even though in black-and-white, still has legs. Even in HD. And Lucy lived well ever after!
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Old June 28th, 2008, 02:01 PM   #3
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I do love Lucy :)

Thanks for your reply Dean! I do understand the importance and significance of future proofing one's work. However, for this particular project we won't be maintaining any rights to the finished product, that's just how the project is and we can't do anything about that now. I do, however, have the footage for other projects that we've done and I always maintain the EDLs and offline edits. I'd love to re-master some of that work and re-release it now that I have a better understanding of colour grading etc. :)
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Old June 28th, 2008, 04:05 PM   #4
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I've edited some feature work shot 35mm and then transferred to Digibeta at the lab. We took those tapes to a production house and they gave me component transfers to DVCAM, because I only had DVCAM decks. So as far as I was concerned, the original material originated on Digibeta. The transfer down to DVCAM looked great, no problems.

If the cameraman is more experienced with a certain camera and it doesn't cost you any more, I would probably go along with that. Using different cameras, especially going from a 2/3" chip one to a 1/2" or 1/3" is analogous to using different film stocks. You light differently for different stocks and for different cameras as well. If he's constantly worrying about the camera, he will probably be less confident and you might not get as good a look. On the other hand, if there is time to get the camera of choice and let him learn it properly, then it would be good too. However, the EX1 is tapeless, and that changes your workflow and would require careful attention to loading the footage and checking it and making backups in case a hard drive crashes.
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Old June 28th, 2008, 06:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ali Jafri View Post
The rental company has recently acquired an EX1 and is pushing for me to rent that out with a Firestore.
I would avoid using a Firestore. I started off with one in conjunction with a Panasonic HVX-200 and realized there were some serious shortcomings:

-- It has to be powered by a separate battery which means a second set of batteries needed to keep it running and yet another charger to deal with.

-- The connection is via Firewire and the 4-pin connector on the camera's end isn't robust at all. It can be jarred loose at any time and it can happen at the worst time.

-- Starting and stopping the Firestore requires perfect communication between the camera and the Firestore via the Firewire cable, and it failed to start recording or refused to stop recording on several occasions. If it's a dramatic production it's just a matter of "take two". But when doing reality or news-style coverage, there's never a take two.

-- The Firestore is hard-drive based and doesn't tolerate small vibrations. It failed horribly on an MD-500 helicopter during a shoot in a remote location and most of the footage was simply gone. And there's no indication that there's a problem until it's way too late. Fortunately I had a P2 card in the bag and that saved part of the day from being a 100% disaster. I'm using the EX1 with SxS cards and they're nearly bulletproof so far.

-- The Firestore had a serious problem with RF noise being picked up by my Audio Technica wireless mics. The recorder had to be at least three feet from the receivers to minimize the electronic interference, and that's tough to do when doing ENG-style shooting.

-- Configuring and transferring footage from the Firestore should be done with a checklist since there are so many options available. By comparison, P2 cards, SxS cards and videotape just needs to be loaded into a camera and they're ready to go. Simpler and less to go wrong.

-- Once the Firestore is filled up there's no second load unless you have another Firestore. You can transfer to a computer but you'll have to hold everything up until it's done. With P2 or SxS you can still shoot on card #2 while card #1 is downloading. Also, in the SxS format, a single 16-gig card records 57 minutes. Three cards plus one 8-gig is good enough for me to cover a 9-hour boat fishing trip.
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Old June 30th, 2008, 01:59 AM   #6
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Thanks for your reply Bill :) Yes, I agree that if your source is good then your downconvert should maintain that look. The problem arises in the downconvert process and workflow it seems. For some reason I've always had problems downconverting from HD to SD, the end result almost always comes out hazy and downright disappointing. Maybe its because I'm using software to downconvert and not any dedicated hardware. I've read that some Black Magic cards have hardware-based downconverting options that give stellar results. I have yet to try them out though.

The DP we're using swears by the Digital Betacam and will not budge, so I guess that pretty much leaves things clear-cut for me. I don't think I have the time or the budget to rent out the EX1 just to have the DP familiarize himself with this camera before production begins. I do plan to buy the EX1 eventually though, but for now we're sticking to DigiBeta.
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Old June 30th, 2008, 02:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Sensui View Post
I would avoid using a Firestore. I started off with one in conjunction with a Panasonic HVX-200 and realized there were some serious shortcomings
Hmm, I'm glad you mentioned this because I wasn't sure about the FireStore, and your post has really made me realise a lot of things. It would seem that the Firestore only functions best in very controlled environments and since my production is all outdoor with a lot of mobility needed the Firestore could be a potential disaster waiting to happen. I guess if I ever go along with the EX1 (its on top of my wishlist) I'd be better off investing in SxS cards rather than the FireStore.
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